26 February 2014

Tanzania Must Maintain Surplus Production

THE Minister for Agriculture, Food Security and Cooperatives, Engineer Christopher Chiza, announced on Monday that the country's food situation was satisfactory.

According to the minister, the good news followed realisation of a surplus of some 2 million tonnes of food in the 2013/2014 season.

During the season, food production stood at 14 million tonnes against the country's requirement of 12 million tonnes. With that, the country can comfortably assist areas with food shortages.

But that is not all, the minister went further to reveal that because of the bumper harvest, the government has relaxed food export ban. Our appeal to the government and all relevant authorities is to ensure that people do not misuse the food export permission granted.

The danger that we see is that people may be carried away by the move and forget to even reserve sufficient stocks for their families. This may end up plunging the country into another food crisis.

Currently 56 districts in 16 regions are facing food shortages and the government has ordered supply of more than 200,000 tonnes.

We wish to remind farmers that while selling their food domestically or exporting it, they must keep stocks which will last till the next harvest season.

Likewise farmers, policy makers and other stakeholders must not be complacent with the recorded surplus but aim to achieve further improved yields and hence propel the country into food sufficiency.

More efforts must thus be put on the promotion of modern farming methods through the Agriculture First initiative. In that, we must use technological breakthrough to increase yields.

Farmers must be encouraged to employ modern farming methods by, for example, using high yielding varieties especially for all major food crops such as maize, rice, sorghum, millet, cassava, potatoes and beans, combined with the expanded use of fertilizers and other recommended chemical inputs.

That would lead to sizable increases in returns to land and hence raise farmers' incomes.

Since the country wants to achieve sustained food surpluses and eliminate the threat of starvation, we believe that improved production is the only way out.

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